CAMERON - With the completion date of Dec. 18 about a week away for the new Cameron High and Middle school complex, Marshall County School officials are making final preparations on a project that has been six years in the making.
Initial plans called for substantial renovations to be made to the existing high and middle school building, which was opened in September 1956. However, through a bond passed by Marshall County voters in 2006 and money obtained from the West Virginia School Building Authority, the project grew to a $31.8 million, state-of-the-art new building on the outskirts of Cameron. The new project was met with optimism and enthusiasm from residents in the area.
That enthusiasm has turned to frustration for some, as the project is more than a year behind schedule and more than $500,000 over budget. Superintendent Fred Renzella said the focus is to complete the project and then find out what went wrong.
Marshall County Schools Superintendent Fred Renzella talks during a board of education meeting about construction progress at the new Cameron High and Middle School.
"We intend to have that answer sometime in January so that we can give a more defined cost of ... the building," he said of a final cost and accountability for what went wrong.
A timeline of important events for the Cameron project follows, from its inception in 2006 until now as work winds down.
- November 2006 - Marshall County voters approve a $27.9 million bond levy, with $2.5 million of that to renovate the existing Cameron High School.
New Cameron High School Timeline
A new middle/high school in Cameron is nearing completion, with students set to move in next month. Here are some project highlights:
- Initial project cost - $31.3
Projected cost - $31.8 million
Cost overrun to date - $500,000
- Initial completion date - Oct. 15, 2011
First rescheduled completion date - October 2012
Current completion date - December 18
Reasons provided by county - Rain, natural gas industry,
- Initial move-in date -
Current move-in date - January 2013
- Number of students served - 425 in grades 6-12, which works out to an average building cost of $76,470 per student
- Marshall County Schools
Officials Directly in Charge of
Superintendent Fred Renzella
Assistant Superintendent Wayne Simms
- Board of Education members
- Architect and Engineering firm - McKinley & Associates, Wheeling
- Construction Manager -
Project and Construction Services Inc., Cleveland
- General Contractor - Nello Construction Co., Houston, Pa.
- April 2008 - following an engineering study of the current school, decision is made to consider building a new school. State School Building Authority gives its OK.
- October 2008 - planning for new school under way, with artist renderings presented to the board and a site chosen three miles from Cameron in the Clouston area. The board of education acquires 49.5 acres of land from Consol Energy Inc. for the building.
- February 2009 - $31.3 million new school project declared ''shovel ready'' by the SBA. State School Building Authority lists it as one of five submitted to then Gov. Joe Manchin's office for review.
- April 2009 - State awards $23.3 million to build the school, with the local share at $8 million. School built for 425 students in grades 6-12 at more than twice the size of the current school. Includes a meat locker and greenhouse.
- May 2009 - bids opened, with general construction contract awarded to Nello Construction Co. Marshall County Schools Assistant Superintendent Wayne Simms said the project had the potential to cost less than expected. Alternate features were added to the building to compensate, including Terrazzo flooring.
- May 2009 - Construction timelines distributed to all involved parties. The asphalt paving of roadways and parking lots was slated to be the last major undertaking with a completion date of Oct. 15, 2011. Student move-in scheduled for January 2012.
- October 2010 - Project behind schedule. Rick Milhoan, construction manager for Project and Construction Services Inc., said the construction schedule was created with eight weeks of "float time." A Jan. 18, 2011, deadline for getting the building under roof is set.
- Fall 2010 - Site is struck several times by vandals who stole items from trailers, including tools. Additional security measures implemented to combat the crime wave.
- May 2011 - Officials address another possible delay, citing extremely wet weather.
- November 2011 - Project officially delayed again, with heavy rains in the spring and fall being blamed.
The oil and gas industry boom was also cited as a factor in the delay. Officials agreed delaying the opening was important to ensure the quality of work was up to standard, with a tentative completion date of October 2012 set.
- June 2012 - Eight-page, 450-task schedule created that took into consideration all remaining work to be completed. A Dec. 18 completion date was set according to that schedule.
- July - Board of Education member Lori Kestner voiced her concern over the quality of work, showing photos of cracked block and pavement and non-working drains to project managers and other board members.
- July - Board of Education, in a closed-door session, discusses change orders on the project, as well as budget concerns.
- August - Board meets again in a closed-door session before unanimously approving $528,000 to Nello Construction for change orders.
- November - A final walk-through of the facility with the state fire marshal is set. The Dec. 18 date remained firm as the "substantial completion" date, though officials said several small projects would still need to be completed.
- December - Renzella said the state fire marshal will return to the school Dec. 13 to complete a walk-through.
The board of education is set to meet at the school sometime next week to get a final update, and students from Cameron may have the opportunity later this month to see their new school for the first time.
Renzella said students are tentatively scheduled to move into the building Jan. 3 when they return from the Christmas break.
Renzella said though the project has been challenging, he believes the county's track record with building projects remains strong.
"With the (2006) levy, we had 13 building projects, including Hilltop Elementary School, which all came in on schedule and under budget," he said.